A new education review calls for greater investment in quality education

31 January 2019
A photo of the minister of education Arber Ademi speaking at the conference. Sitting next to him are Elspeth Erickson, UNICEF deputy representative  and the OECD expert, Hannah Kitchen
UNICEF/2019/Dimishkovski

SKOPJE, 31 January 2019 –   A “Review of the Assessment and Evaluation in the Educational System” that was presented and discussed at a stakeholder workshop today, calls for more consistency in the assessment of what students know and can do, improved teachers’ career development based on merit and improved systems to appraise teachers performance as key areas of reform needed to improve the quality of teaching and student outcomes.

Developed by a team of OECD experts with UNICEF support, the review notes that despite close to full participation in primary and lower secondary education, student learning outcomes are stagnating and lowest in region with more than half of students in the country lacking basic competencies.

A comparative review of PISA results from 2000-2015 show the share of students without basic literacy has increased. The initial recommendations were discussed at a stakeholders workshop led by the Ministry of Education and Science.

“I would like to emphasize that we, as a Government find this most recent analysis of the situation in the national education system in Macedonia to be of great importance for outlining all of our further educational policies and steps that we will undertake, certainly with the ultimate goal to create the best possible quality educational system that will generate increasingly better generations of students who will gradually take their social roles of adults,” said Mr. Arber Ademi, Minister of Education and Science.

The policy recommendations focus on raising learning outcomes through improve student assessment; using teacher appraisal to support and incentivise good teaching; aligning school evaluation with its core purposes of accountability and improvement; and creating a stronger framework to monitor and evaluate national progress in education.

“This review confirms that one of the most urgent and most rewardable actions the country can make is to give priority to quality and competence of teachers. Motivated teachers and competent teachers are the main drivers of education and will help us narrow educational gaps and boost employability and competitiveness over the long term,” said Ms. Elspeth Erickson, UNICEF Deputy Representative. 

Among the specific recommendation, the review identifies the need to develop coherent learning standards giving priority to learning standards for reading and writing in early primary (grade 1to 3), and to align each students assessment with the national standards and to use these grades to monitor learning, rather than rank children.

It calls for work to remove the barriers to formative assessment, i.e. to remove the strict curriculum time limits, so that teachers can have more flexibility in adjusting their teaching to students’ needs. During the workshop, stakeholders discussed modernizing the state matura to improve assessment of students’ learning.

Participants discussed how to set higher standards for individuals entering the teaching profession and provide teacher career advancement based on merit, as well as how to ensure teachers participate in continuous professional development programmes.  The review notes that the share of teachers who have attended professional development training in our country is more than two times lower than the share of teachers who have attended similar professional development training in the other countries of the region.

The outcomes of the workshop, together with the findings of the final report will inform policy changes being led by the Ministry of Education and Science, though its new Analysis and Research Department established with UNCIEF support to improve evidence based policy development in education reform.

 

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